The historic neighborhood of Strivers' Row is now home to The Renaissance Pavilion: a stretch of heated outdoor dining options, presented by Uber Eats. Follow Harlem Park-to-Park Executive Director Nikoa Evans and ValincPR's Valerie Wilson's tour.Less
The sibling spot to Ruby's Vintage, Sexy Taco is Washington-Palmer's ode to California street food. The chef's non-traditional tacos take cues from across the map, with Cuban-style chicken, beef birria, and vegan chorizo options for the tacos, burritos, and bowls. "In its current rendition, it's more of a takeaway spot," says Wilson, "but now that we have these great parklets, you can sit and eat your Sexy Taco in the bright, vibrant environment."
The beautifully packaged chocolates from artisanal chocolatier Jessica Spaulding and co-founder Asha Dixon landed a spot in 2020 among Oprah's favorite things. "Their chocolates tell the story of our culture," says Evans: "Black culture and history is infused throughout the branding and the artisan chocolate." "The bonbons are amazing," adds Wilson: "Each one is a discovery."
The French-Senegalese chef Ejhadji Cisse "pioneered this little strip of Adam Clayton Boulevard," says Evans. "Ponty Bistro is very elegant and has an extensive outdoor seating area. He draws an international audience, including many people who attend one of our most famous churches, Abyssinian Baptist. It's one of the go-to places for after-church brunch in the area."
Even in the midst of a pandemic, Allen Hassell's lounge "hasn't skipped a beat," says Wilson. "It continues to entertain guests, attracting entertainment types that quietly hang out, sipping fine whiskeys. People return for the food: The standouts I've tried are the brussels sprouts and all types of flavorful chicken wings. He has a big brunch crowd, too."
"This is one of the last Black-owned gay bars in New York City," explains Evans. "It's a very upscale, posh environment—primarily a cocktail bar, with a late-night scene. There are so few of these type of spots left in the city, so owner Alexi Minko really fills a unique void in the community."
"This is one of the legacy businesses of Harlem," says Evans. "Ma Smith's is a 25-year-old family business, started by Ms. Joann Baylor of Make My Cake. Ma Smith's maintains those bakery elements but adds savory items, so you can get soup and sandwiches, too." "Their chocolate-chocolate cake is a bit hit in our house," adds Wilson—"and the pound cake is my favorite cake."